Friday, 8 October 2021

Another Round (2020)

This Oscar-winning film from Denmark is a strange story about four school teachers in Denmark, each of whom had sadness in their lives and a dull existence, looking to each other to make life different, better and more exciting for themselves by an experiment with alcohol consumption!

The creation of director/writer Thomas Vinterberg, who was also responsible for Festen and the excellent The Hunt, it brings together four excellent character actors to execute the project. Mads Mikkelsen (Men and Chicken, The Hunt, Hannibal), Thomas Bo Larsen (Festen, The Hunt), Magnus Millang (Heavy Load) and Lars Ranthe (The Hunt).

As I say, they're all treading life's water to a large degree and looking for something to spark them into life. One of them comes up with a plan, which they all decide to get onboard with. A scientist has suggested that human beings function better socially and professionally if they have a little alcohol in their bloodstream. At all times! They work out how to execute this and continue with normal life - only the four of them with knowledge of the plan.

They start it up and like what it's doing to them. They are indeed professionally more fired-up, start to achieve great things as teachers and even their social and home lives take a turn for the better. Depressed, boring and dull men suddenly become interesting and different ones. Enthused by their success, they decide to step it up a little and increase the amount in their systems. What could go wrong?! I'll leave you to find out.

The four leads give us a funny, anxious and moving portrayal as we move with them through the whole range of emotions, marriage problems, family issues, elation and sadness inside the wrapper of false hope and potentially wayward tactics. There are plenty of comic moments thrown in as well - as half the time, we're not sure if we should be rooting for the plan and initial positive results or see the potentially folly, which might well only end badly.

It's really well observed, well shot, acted and beautifully crafted into a story which grabs the attention of the viewer, wanting to know how it turns out. A lot of the film is shot in the school, where the pupils look to benefit from this new-found enthusiasm and drive. We see some personal stories thrown in for good measure where pupils are looking to overcome their own hurdles in order to achieve what their goals. Each of the four men take one key student under their wing.

It's in many ways a feel-good movie, but more than that it's a peek into the lives of four people who thought that, just maybe, the grass could be greener on the other side - and decide that it's worth the risk to go and find out if they're right. Very enjoyable and now available via streaming services.

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